A mediator helps you to focus your energy on the new life you’ll be building, not on fighting over past indiscretions or horrors. And since mediated settlements and arrangements reflect a couple’s agreement to take ownership of their relationship as parents and ex-spouses, mediation brings a higher level of long-term success.
Of course, not everyone enters mediation with the ability to put the divorce in a nice tidy place and deal with maturity and without negative emotion. While it won’t take the hiss and spit out of a thoroughly nasty divorce, mediators are trained to deal with volatile situations. They will focus on the same issues that would be examined by the court: spousal support, asset distribution, child custody, property settlement, and parenting plans. The difference is that with a mediator it is you and your STBE who decides on what is fair.
In choosing a mediator, perhaps the most important issue will be the mediator's style. Some are highly directive, offering evaluation of the likelihood a judge will sign off on one or another option in court and giving you concrete proposals for resolution of conflicts. Others opt for empowering a couple to make their own choices through deft questioning and discussion. Neither is right or wrong in theory, but one or the other may be more right for you and your STBE. So as you’re shopping around, ask mediators to discuss their approaches.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that going through mediation eliminates your need for a lawyer. Good mediators recommend that each client consult with a lawyer at some point during the mediation and before signing anything.